Review: Altars Of The Moon ‘Brahmastra’

According to Wikipedia (yes that bastion of 100% factually accurate information), the Brahmastra and its variants are weapons in the Hindu faith capable of destroying the world, creation and vanquishing all beings. A ‘fiery weapon that creates a fierce fireball which when discharged, all nature, oceans, and animals tremble; the sky surrounds with flame, glaciers melt and mountains shatter with copious noise all around’.

Altars Of The Moon 'Brahmastra'

Altars Of The Moon is the brainchild of Uada bassist Nate Verschoor who during the Covid lockdown in 2020 had an idea to ‘craft a single piece of sonic destruction’. Nate enlisted the services of the ubiquitous Jeff Wilson of Chrome Waves/Deeper Graves for help with the formulation of the music and Heath Rave of Lotus Thrones to deliver the vocals and lyrics for the grimly apocalyptic themed project. While my knowledge of Verschoor‘s work with Uada is sorely lacking, the involvement of both Wilson and Rave, as well as the projects distribution by Disorder Recordings, meant that my interest in reviewing this release was always guaranteed.

The album was engineered, mixed and mastered by Jeff, while Nate himself was responsible for the artwork. The cover has a definite otherworldly and mystical quality about it featuring a burning man as well as various mysterious magical symbols, the kind of piece you may expect to find amongst any number of religious or spiritually inclined texts.

Earsplit’s accompanying notes highlight similarities to avant-garde/experimental artists such as Dødheimsgard, Blut Aus Nord and Virus, all of whom started in the black metal scene but decided to go in a more musically adventurous direction, Ulver is another band who could be mentioned in this vein. It’s certainly evident from Heath and Jeff‘s recent output that they’re not afraid to challenge themselves, or their audience either.

A fascinating collaboration which warrants your undivided attention…

The album is basically one twenty-eight-minute track (split into two on Bandcamp) and is also called Brahmastra. It features a myriad of styles commencing with glorious synth-work and a very 80s futuristic sound, which fans of artists such as Zombi and In Arcadia (both of whom I have reviewed for The Shaman) will pick up on. Along the way you’ll also encounter beautifully melancholic ambient music, sublime blackened post-metal, hints of shoegaze (think Ride’s Nowhere before they decided to jump on the britpop bandwagon) and faint traces of death-rock ala Christian Death. It also gives one an opportunity to experience Heath Rave‘s rich vocals again outside of Lotus Thrones.

The track manages to incorporate all of these seemingly disparate influences and takes you on a rich psychedelic journey into the cosmos, well, armageddon when you consider the record’s aforementioned concept. All the instrumentation blends together so effortlessly, making for a track that is truly progressive. At times I was reminded of Neurosis, not necessarily musically, but in terms of ambition and vision, as a band who has evolved beyond their roots. Scott Kelly once spoke on Swedish television about how they could easily kick people in the face all day long (musically of course) and be comfortable, however they wanted to go to places that made them uncomfortable and become comfortable with them and that is what Altars Of The Moon feels like. A collection of individuals who are doubling down and going further out in their quest to satisfy themselves artistically.

If you’ve been reading my reviews over the past couple of years, then you’ll know of my, not-so-secret, love for all things Disorder Recordings related and this release has done nothing to quell that. A fascinating collaboration which warrants your undivided attention.

Label: Disorder Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp

Scribed by: Reza Mills